Republicans finally voice Iraq concerns

By Freedom Newspapers

Administration spokespeople may still talk about the foolishness of having 435 micromanagers of a war, of giving the “surge” a chance to be successful, of a timetable being a timetable for surrender, of not being affected by opinion polls.

But recent actions suggest they are aware that time is running short to demonstrate tangible success in Iraq.

The most obvious indicator is Vice President Dick Cheney’s trip to the Middle East, which included a surprise trip to Iraq and an address to U.S. troops. Publicly, Cheney said he urged the Maliki government in Iraq to pick up the pace on tackling a number of contentious issues, notably an equitable agreement for sharing oil revenues and an arrangement to let lower-level former Baath Party members return to government positions.

Whether he privately suggested to Maliki and other Iraqi leaders that there are deadlines or timetables for such steps we don’t know.

Cheney also visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan, in a tacit recognition that help from Iraq’s neighbors is essential to anything resembling a satisfactory resolution to Iraqi turbulence. Saudi Arabia has recently undertaken uncharacteristically public diplomatic steps to try to resolve such problems as Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the ever-simmering Israeli-Palestinian impasse. If the U.S. is smart it will welcome these efforts.

Meanwhile, a majority of the Iraqi parliament signed a non-binding resolution calling on the U.S. to set a timetable for U.S. withdrawal. In the Kurdish north, which has been the most stable part of Iraq, the Turkish government is accusing the Iraqi Kurdish government of harboring Kurdish militants intent on stirring up trouble in Turkey, which has historically mistreated its Kurdish minority.

Oh, and 11 “moderate” congressional Republicans recently had what is described as an unusually frank meeting with President Bush, telling him that if the situation doesn’t improve by September he risks losing members of his own party. Leaks about the meeting were quickly followed by comments from conservatives that they are equally concerned. Republicans would obviously like to go into the 2008 election with Iraq in the rear-view mirror rather than in the headlights.

It is long past time for the United States to admit that the utopian dream of establishing a stable model democracy in Iraq is likely beyond U.S. reach. The United States has toppled Saddam Hussein, worked valiantly to establish security and assisted in setting up a rudimentary Iraqi government. It is time to let the Iraqis handle the remaining problems.